Finding Neverland

Posted online: June 2016

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By Gina Tolleson Photographs by Dewey Nicks

“Who would have thought that this big-city boy’s paradise was nestled on a private orchid farm between an aquaponic and Moringa tree operation?” recalls Munich-born, Manhattan-raised artisan and filmmaker Daniel Kuttner. “I remember driving up to the greenhouse for the very first time. I felt I had arrived as an artist. Your art is not defined by your space, but your space can define your art.” Daniel marks the moment just over a year ago when he stood looking at broken panes of glass dangling from the steel rafters, weeds five feet high, and he became fixated on its potential. “High ceilings made of glass mean a limitless connection to the universe above. Feet firmly planted in the soil, it grounded me in a stance of balance. The view of the vast ocean gave me hope for future generations. I called Beth, ‘Honey, you need to come see this, now!’”

For Beth Kuttner, a Santa Barbara native who left as a teenager in the 1980s to model around the world, this was music to her homesick ears. “I remember my youth in the ’70s—it was wild and free. There were no restrictions. I rode my bike everywhere. I never worried about food, water, or sunscreen. Fun under the sun and not a care in the world,” Beth recalls. So when she laid her eyes on the abandoned glasshouses for lease at the Dos Pueblos Orchid Farm, she fell into tears. “The greenhouse represents the wild abandonment and freedom of my youth for my children. It’s a slice of untouched California coastline, which is disappearing or inaccessible. It’s a place lost in time,” says the mother of two. Add an outdoor half-pipe and indoor skate ramps for daughters Viva, 15, and Luna, 13—both devout vegans—and that “put us over the edge,” says Daniel. “This is our family’s happy place.”

Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.01.54 PMThe 50-acre oceanfront greenhouse commune, Dos Pueblos Orchid Farm, is on the historic Rancho Dos Pueblos purchased in the early 1950s by oil tycoon Sam Mosher. With a background in the cut-flower business, Mosher’s Dos Pueblos Orchid Company was the largest orchid producer in the world during the 1950s and 1960s with some two million plants and 22 acres of greenhouses lavishly landscaped with fountains, pools, fields of birds of paradise, and lavender—even a collection of exotic animals—and was known to host some bohemian and bacchanalian dinner parties in its heyday. Now the withered and wild property known as The Orchid has attracted the Kuttners and an assortment of other artisans, organic farmers, and craftsmen who have set up shop and work studios in its former cymbidium chapels of light.

“I’m an artist who makes tables. I’m a tischler,” says Daniel. “In Germany, there is a distinction between a carpenter and a table maker. The tischler only makes tables. A table is the central platform of any home or communal space. It is the well of creativity from which energy spreads out and brings people together and makes them communicate.” Beth shared their wares (she creates found driftwood and succulent planters) to the local community recently by creating a biannual Homespun craft fair in the greenhouse last December. “Workshops are a way to connect people and share this otherworldly space,” she says.Screen Shot 2016-05-04 at 12.02.23 PM

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Daniel inherited his talent and unbridled creative expression innately. Enter the extraordinary matriarch,  Beatrix Ost. A painter, author, designer, and style icon, Ost has cast her spell from galleries to galas from Europe, New York, and Tokyo back to Charlottesville, Virginia, where she lives in an avant-garde, art-filled Colonial farm, and now is adding Santa Barbara to her kaleidoscope. Ost, clad in her signature eclectic couture, visits often, no doubt inspiring her granddaughters’ own unconventional style—Luna’s roller derby goth, and Viva’s effortless ’70s skater girl nonchalance. “Beth and Daniel have found their paradise by the sea,” says Ost. “It is a magical place to create whatever you choose to do. A village for friends to gather and professionals to share their talents. Just to be there recharges your energy.”

[SPRING 2016]

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